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President Caret lays out UMass role in Pioneer Valley

Says, ``the people I've met want us to do more''

HOLYOKE - UMass President Robert L. Caret outlined a plan today for working with Holyoke, Springfield, and other communities in the Pioneer Valley region to help grow and recruit innovation economy based-companies and expand existing enterprises in information technology, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and the life sciences.

In an address at the annual economic development breakfast of the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, President Caret said the University had strengthened its role in the region in recent years, thanks to efforts by UMass Amherst. But he acknowledged the desire of business, civic, and political leaders in the Pioneer Valley region to see the University expand its presence there.

"In spite of how well we're doing as a University in working with our regional development partners, my sense is that the people I've met want us to do more,'' President Caret said, harkening back to comments he heard and absorbed last October when he traveled the state on a four-day, 400-mile bus trip that included stops in Springfield, Holyoke, and Amherst. ``I absolutely believe we should do more where we can. It won't be easy at a time of diminished resources, but we have to try to deliver as much as we can on our mission of service.''

Those plans include:

  • Completing the $168 million Mass Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) on schedule - by the end of 2012 -  to demonstrate that major development projects can get done in Holyoke in a timely and efficient manner;
  • Supporting local efforts to use the MGHPCC and a high-speed data center in Springfield to grow and attract other information technology companies seeking inexpensive green power and IT connectivity;
  • Developing plans on the UMass Amherst campus for a $95 million life sciences research and development facility specifically designed for University-industry collaboration, which could help attract industry to neighboring communities in the region;
  • Building on existing initiatives in advanced manufacturing to help strengthen and grow that sector in the region;
  • Building on last November's clean energy workshop in Holyoke to position the city as a test-bed for new clean energy technologies, using the research at Amherst to grow and attract clean-tech companies;
  • Bringing together multiple educational institutions and their degree programs to one central location, combined with online offerings, to help meet the needs of the Pioneer Valley region's workforce.

"We can be partners with state and local governments, business and industry in marketing the region in these key sectors,'' President Caret said. ``And we can work to ensure that we are generating the talent and innovations that help support the growth of these key sectors in the future.''

Contact: Ann Scales, 617-287-4084


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Robert P. Connolly
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Ann Scales
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Jan Brogen
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